The Future of AI at Retail Stores

How will AI impact convenience stores?

The so-called 4th Industrial Revolution has arrived. Characterized by rapid, far-reaching, and disruptive change, this era is distinctive from its predecessor: The Digital Revolution. Artificial intelligence, or AI, is changing the ways businesses conduct all sorts of functions such as demand forecasting, marketing, and loss prevention.

Where this rapid influx of new technology will lead is anyone’s guess. However, business owners should prepare for what appears to be just around the corner, and the most important part is capturing data.

“Companies should invest in their technical infrastructure and data analyzing capabilities. All businesses must be making a move to be smart, connected organizations or they will soon fall behind the competition,” Barnard Marr said in an October 2018 Forbes article.

Like other retailers, convenience store owners should embrace AI as part of the changing business landscape. Fortunately, Alberta Payments + Technology has the hardware and software to keep convenience stores on the cutting edge of business technology as data becomes increasingly important.

So what is AI?

When you hear someone mention AI, your mind might rush to movies where robots take over the earth. The premise makes for a decent comic book movie like the 2015 blockbuster “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” but it doesn’t capture the current state of AI.

Computing pioneer and secret World War II hero Alan Turing discussed the concept of “thinking machines” in the early 1950s. A few years later, John McCarthy coined the term “artificial intelligence.” According to Darrel M. West writing for the Brookings Institution, the three hallmarks of AI are intentionality, intelligence, and adaptability.

The algorithms directing artificial intelligence decisions combine information from an array of sources. As more decisions are made, algorithms consider previous successes and failures to make better decisions over time. Humans design the machines with the intent for the machines to reach better conclusions as data runs through the algorithms over and over. Machines become more intelligent and therefore adapt to new information.

A key distinction to make here is the difference between AI and predictive analytics. AI makes decisions, learns from those decisions, and can simulate outcomes. Predictive analytics models future results based on specific historical data. AI often uses real time data, but predictive analytics only uses information from the past.

How can AI help convenience stores?

To say AI is changing the retail industry would be an understatement. The examples of giant shifts in the way companies do business are plentiful. Amazon has opened a handful of brick-and-mortar Amazon Go stores where customers scan an app at the entrance and leave without checking items at a register. Walmart plans to introduce AI-powered store which has AI enabled cameras and interactive displays. IPSoft has created an advanced chatbot that answers simple telephonic requests, so employees don’t have to field those calls. Mobilemonkey is a Facebook Messenger Chatbot which helps you promote and manage your marketing campaigns.

Your convenience store may not need a chatbot to take your phone calls, but you can see by these examples just how much AI can change your business. Convenience stores can benefit from AI in several major ways:

  • AI can support your demand forecasting. By having the right products on the shelves, your customers can buy what they need when they need it.
  • Taking the guesswork out of marketing is something any business owner would jump at the chance to do. AI uses point of sale data and promotional history to see which marketing campaigns work best.
  • AI can reduce inventory loss by detecting checkout errors. In some cases, it can even tell when cashiers forget to scan an item.

The benefits of AI are too numerous to list them all. If you aren’t already investing in AI for your convenience store, rest assured your toughest competitors are.

Put your technology in place

The key to having a good relationship with AI is to have robust data. The hardware and software available through Alberta Payments helps you collect that data and put it to the best use for your business. Schedule a demonstration to see exactly how Alberta Payments can help your business get and maintain a competitive advantage.

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